Everything is better with music. Yoga practice is no exception.
Nothing helps me center and relax after getting on the mat like chill Indian beats. Nothing supports me in the peak pose as strongly as some good old dance-pop tracks. If you have also been bitten by the music bug, you know what I mean.
Music has an immense effect on improving our mood, performance, and focus. Don't take just my word for it. Research has long ago shown the healing impact of music on regulating stress, decreasing pain, and promoting well-being.
And to top all that, music can make us all better athletes. According to Costas I. Karageorghis, the author of the book Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, the right tune during the workout can ease the discomfort and make us exercise longer and harder. Turning on the favorite song can also be highly stimulating and motivational, especially on the days when you don't feel like getting out of the bed, let alone exercising.
So why not harness the power of music and use it to make our yoga practice stronger, more centered, and more fun?
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Whether you're a yoga teacher compiling a playlist for the upcoming class or a practitioner looking for ways to enhance home yoga practice, choosing the right songs for your yoga session takes some skill.
If you don't know where to start, ask yourself these four simple questions to make the process of selecting songs easier.
Calming, dynamic and sweaty, or maybe slow-flowing? Music can work for you or against you.
Generally, you want your songs to mirror your moves. I bet you won't feel in sync with your body when doing restorative yoga poses and listening to some dance pop-tunes in the background. Dynamic Sun Salutations can also turn into a sluggish and lazy flow when paired with mellow and romantic melodies.
If your yoga practice looks like a little bit of everything, create a playlist that will match the energy and pacing of the class. Start and end the playlist with calm and soothing tunes, while saving stimulating songs that will fill you with vigor for the middle of the class and the peak pose.
We don't play music during the yoga practice to get distracted. The final goal is exactly the opposite.
Songs without lyrics are often best for setting the mood for your practice and helping with concentrating on what's really important – your breath.
I'm not trying to say you can't include music with lyrics into your yoga playlist. Just make sure your singing along during the class doesn't impede your capacity to breathe and listen to your body.
Your practice at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. will probably differ. So should your yoga playlist.
Mornings are great for energizing flows and upbeat music – it will wake you up and set a positive mood for the day. Evenings are best for slow and steady practice accompanied by soft songs to promote sound sleep.
It's definitely easier to create a yoga playlist for yourself. Focus on the genre and artists you like, make sure the pacing is right and voila!
If, on the other hand, you're compiling a playlist for the group of people you don't know well, try to stick to unobtrusive, instrumental tunes. You can't go wrong with some contemporary trip-hop with Indian influences.
Once you get clear answers to these four questions, creating a playlist for your yoga class turns from an annoying chore into art and personal expression.
A lifetime is not enough to listen to all the good music out there. I'm always experimenting with the tunes for my home yoga practice and have the playlists ready for several classes in advance. Here are some of my favorite songs that, in my opinion, work great for yoga.
I think this gentle song is a perfect start/cool-down to any yoga practice. Alexi's voice is just so soothing and warm, but surprisingly, it doesn’t make me sleepy at all. This song is featured in so many of my yoga playlists, and I found it suits any time of the year, winter or summer.
Have you noticed that almost every song works great for yoga if it features sitar? 😀 I love Bonobo and often listen to him off the yoga mat too, but this song is just genius. Besides, it sets a perfect mood for meditation too!
This is an evergreen track for me. It sounds like summer and reminds me of one during other seasons. I often listen to it during a dynamic stretch before or after a workout. It builds a perfect bridge between a warm-up and the start of sun salutations or as an interim melody for a cool-down before final Savasana.
Yes, that's right. While everybody is crazy about Billie Eilish, I still play Lorde in 2019. Just listen to it. The beat is perfect for picking up the pace in your practice and is a perfect match for expansive inhales and exhales.
I've discovered this music band from Russia long before taking up yoga. I still listen to Diggadgy when I want to get my heart pumping and blood flowing.
Kalabi is such an underrated band. I feel like it should be playing in every yoga studio. Instrumental, groovy, and melodic – this will complement any yoga practice.
I couldn't help but include another song from this awesome band. If I'm lazy to plan a playlist for my home yoga practice, I just play the full album by Kalabi, and it never feels out of place.
I'm ashamed to admit that I've discovered this song and artist just recently. It's just perfect for some lazy, slow flow. You will feel like dancing, believe me!
If you feel stressed that the summer is coming to an end, just put on this song and flow like summer will never end.
This song is heavy with lyrics. Yet, it's just so inspirational and full of love and light. It makes me want to become a better person on and off the mat.
Just when you think you can't push yourself anymore, turn up the volume and, against all logic, you'll find you can do more than you imagined.
Ok, this song was literally everywhere a few years ago. But if dance-pop is what gets you moving, this track will hit the right spot. Just be careful not to start dancing in your Downward Dog!
I know that many people treat final pose Savasana really seriously and argue that this is a moment for silence. For me, though, Savasana is not a moment for meditation, but for relaxation and "letting myself go." When I've been focused and in control for the whole practice, I feel that Savasana is a perfect moment to let my breath and mind float wherever they want. Into space, into mountains and beyond everything earthy.
Before you throw a block at me, saying that I'm not doing my Savasana right, just listen to these tunes. Aren't they magic?
This is my all-time favorite song for Savasana. It's so surreal that having listened to it for years, I'm still not tired of it. And I always feel this gentle rhythm in my fingers and toes.
This beautiful song gives me chills every damn time. And the video! Trying to decipher the meaning behind it is a good conversation starter, by the way 🙂
Another great piece by Patrick Watson. His ethereal voice is everything you need for a restful and magical end of the yoga practice.
Don't feel like compiling a playlist for your yoga practice but want to get on the mat now? This 2-hour long mix is absolute fire!
Hope you enjoy these music suggestions!
Let me know what you think and share your favorite music for yoga in the comments below.